All Highly Quotable

[…] I have rarely met unhappy migrant workers in China. Most of them came from virtually feudal villages and were glad to have escaped them. They were proud of their little self-earned money, because their parents, as peasants, earned even less. They told about the many small improvements in their lives – the opportunity to freely choose their partner for marriage, for example, rather than being told by the family whom to marry.

Here lies the great problem of many western moralists with China: they simply don’t want to acknowledge that most of all of the Chinese – and above all the underprivileged migrant workers – live more freely and with more dignity than a few years ago. Within the three years from 2005 to 2007, low wages in China rose by about thirty per cent. Why is no western labor union boss happy about that and why doesn’t one of them see an early promise for a truly international labor movement? […]

Quoted from Georg Blume: China is no Evil Empire (China ist kein Reich des Bösen), Hamburg 2008

A government that was never elected and orders the army open fire on its own people may turn out to have exhausted the patience even of the friendly Thai people. And the West must decide on which side [in the “Yellow-Red”] conflict his favor is. The seemingly complicated conflict between the red shirts and the government’s yellow shirts isn’t inscrutable at all. The past days have shown this.

Georg Blume, in Die Zeit, May 2010

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Related
Deutsche Welle Chinese Dept Acquitted, March 27, 2009

5 Responses to “All Highly Quotable”

  1. The first quote is in the tradition of what James Mann calls the Cultural Revolution Baseline, although it does not refer to the Cultural Revolution itself. According to this idea, criticism of China is often deflected by citing a change in the life of Chinese people. Bad conditions are deemed acceptable because they are better than the conditions of a few years before, which were abysmal.

    It is good that conditions of life are improving in China. We should be happy about this. But this, in itself, is no excuse to apologize for conditions which are still bad in some areas. To do so would be like granting a certificate of acceptability to the Guantanamo Bay detention center now simply because the Americans are very very very slowly edging towards closing the prison. It is good that progress is being made, but that progress should not silence criticism.

    So I, for one, have issues with Blume’s statement.

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  2. I actually have issues with both of his statements, because he seems to apply very different standards to Beijing 1989 and Bangkok 2010.

    Like

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